Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson responded Thursday to an embarrassing gaffe from earlier in the morning when he asked on MSNBC, “What is Aleppo?”
“No one is taking this more seriously than me, I feel horrible,” the former New Mexico governor told Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin.
He added: “I have to get smarter, and that’s just part of the process.”
The governor later released a lengthier statement, in which he said he “blanked.”
“This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human,” he said in the statement. “Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict – I talk about them every day. But hit with ‘What about Aleppo?’ I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.”
“Can I name every city in Syria? No,” he continued. “Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.”
He said that there “were many things” he did not know off the top of his head when he served as governor, but by “surrounding myself with the right people,” he “succeeded.”
“That would begin, clearly, with daily security briefings that, to me, will be fundamental to the job of being president.”
Johnson was asked on “Morning Joe” earlier about what he’d do regarding Aleppo, a city in Syria that is among the hardest hit by the ongoing Civil War. Johnson wasn’t familiar with the city.
“You’re kidding,” MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle responded.
“No,” Johnson said.
Barnicle then explained the significance of Aleppo in Syria, which is an epicenter of the worldwide refugee crisis. Johnson then called Syria a “mess” and said the US had to work with Russia to end the conflict.
“The only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end,” Johnson said. “But when we’ve aligned ourselves with – when we’ve supported the opposition, the Free Syrian Army, the Free Syrian Army is also coupled with the Islamists, and then the fact that we’re also supporting the Kurds. And this is – it’s just a mess.”
The gaffe came just one day after 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney suggested Johnson should be allowed to participate in the presidential debate.
The RealClearPolitics average of recent polls showed Johnson on Thursday with around 9% support, 6 percentage points away from qualifying for the debates.
Maxwell Tani contributed to this report.